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The Tech Guy 165

Published July 30, 2005

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Show #165

If you can’t listen to the show live you can get the podcast version free one week after the air date. Visit the Audio Archivesor, if you use iTunes 4.9 or later, click the iTunes button to receive new shows automatically.

In honor of Defcon 13: The NSA’s guides to securing any OS (Thanks for the link Tom!)

My new book is out on Monday!

 toc | toc 

Today’s news items

Defcon - the annual hacker conference started yesterday in Las Vegas accompanied by the usual hijinks. Every year someone hacks the Windows machines that run the big signs outside the casinos to display the blue screen of death or a shoutout to their friends. This year at the Black Hat conference immediately before Defcon, Cisco tried to stop a company from showing how to hack its routers. The presentation continued after the presenter quit his job. Patrick Norton will join us with coverage today.

LCD prices are tumbling just in time for Christmas.

Systm Episode 3 Released!

Say goodbye to the bank-breaking audio/video cables at your local electronics superstore. Save your money and build out your home theater DIY style. With a total running time of 45 minutes, Kevin and Dan talk to a broadcast engineer to demonstrate how to make your own high end A/V cables for a fraction of the cost and a “monster” savings.


Joe in Los Angeles - missing photos

His daughter has a Nikon CoolPix 7900 and SanDisk card reader. She did something with the memory card - and now can’t see her photos. I recommend using a photo album program, like the free Picasa for Windows to copy and catalog photos so that you know where they are from now on.

You can recover accidentally deleted photos with the free PC Inspector as long as they haven’t been overwritten with new photos.

From ihatepcs: I found a free flash recovery program - from Vaiosoft - appears to be made just for this type of issue (for photos..etc)

Nate in Connecticut - Blue Screen of Death on new Dell

He’s getting a core dump every time it crashes. Turn that off by opening the System Properties control panel, click the Advanced tab, press the Startup and Recovery Button, then turn off the debugging options (what are you going to do with that information anyway?)

If you get frequent blue screens with XP it means that there’s something wrong with a key Windows file, a device driver (usually video driver), or a hardware problem. Since it’s a brand new computer it is most likely the latter - but to be sure run the full system restore to get it back to the way it was when it came from the factory. If the blue screens continue send it back. If not, re-install programs one by one to see which is causing the problems.

Carrie in Laguna Nigel - getting legal with Photoshop

She’s inherited a classroom with 30 computers and only two licenses to Photoshop Creative Suite. The classroom next door has a site license. Does it cover her? Depends on the license. I’d call Adobe and explain the situation. They offer good discounts for students and teachers. The new version, CS2, uses an activation technique that limits you to two computers per copy unless you buy a site license.

From Reseda HS Teacher It will probably be a waste of time trying to deal with Adobe, unless you actually have Adobe provided documentation, and/or purchase orders or invoices on previous licenses. This information might be available from whoever does the school purchasing, or a tech coordinator or whoever keeps track of software licenses at your school. Once you determine the actual number of per computer licenses your school is entitled to

I suggest contacting any of the major software vendors ie CDW, PC/Mac Warehouse, TRC, etc, or the vendor your original purchase were made.

They all provide education / academic pricing for Adobe products. As far as I know there is no such thing as a “site license” for Adobe Products. All are sold on a per computer used basis. The cost for Mac versions are the same as PC versions. Generally there are two ways to purchase. You can buy individual academic boxed programs, or you can buy licenses plus installation media. The latter choice is less expensive per copy, but you have to purchase a certain number of minimum licenses (Adobe uses a point system). You sound like you will have no problem with number of licenses. I am in the process of making such a purchase. By the licensing method expect to budget about $199 per machine for Photoshop (regardless of Mac or PC) The media is another $25 dollars per CD so if you need a MAC and Windows it would be $50) If you have the money you can get the Creative Suite2 (Includes Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign for $265, obviously a better deal if you can afford it.) Call around if necessary, but DO NOT pay anything close to retail prices. FYI. Photoshop Box set should cost about $270. Creative Suite Box set about $365

I am using CDW, but this is not an advertisement or endorsement of them, just a resource.

I had to add one more comment regarding price. Cost of a typical textbook for any HS class for an individual student is $50 and often more. A license for Photoshop on a computer ($199) can be used by numerous students over the course of several years, equaling or exceeding the lifespan of the typical high school textbook. At least the kids will use photoshop. Do they read the texbooks????

Mike_B writes: Adobe actually does offer site licenses. It is called the Adobe Open Options program.

Jfoxbox - Tech director- writes: Adobe is very expensive- here is a great price list in PDF, just click on Adobe TLF for small numbers or CLP for larger numbers of orders.

Darren in Virginia - finding bandwidth for his Internet TV show

He hosts hak.5 and is worried about paying for bandwidth. As well he should. The two biggest challenges for IP broadcasters are marketing and bandwidth. Some places you can get free bandwidth include:

These sites require you upload your video to them, but they offer a way for people to find your content. You can reduce bandwidth costs by Coralizing your content. This requires a simple change to your links, and works very well until you start becoming very popular.

If you’re doing hundreds of gigabytes a day you’re probably popular enough to use BitTorrent. I use the Blog Torrent software which is easy to install and use.


Patrick in NYC - publishing his own online magazine

HTML isn’t the best for online magazines because it doesn’t give you enough control of the layout. But there are several good inexpensive ways to publish an online magazine that give you the control you want and give your readers the best experience.

PDF - Adobe’s portable document format is compatible with every computer and inexpensive but offers only basic controls for readers

Flash - There’s a great magazine plug-in for Macromedia’s flash that gives readers some excellent controls and a more realistic magazine experience

Microsoft Reader - it’s Windows specific, but it does offer users lots of control.

Zinio - many commercial magazines (including Playboy) offer electronic versions using Zinio, but it’s not cheap.

Other suggestions?

Wesley in Oxnard - Uninstalling Office trial on Mac

Just drag it to the trash. In general you don’t need to uninstall programs on the Mac. Just drag the folder to the trash. If you want to be really complete you can remove the old preferences file in Library/Preferences and any support folders in the Library/Application Support folder.

Mark in Winnetka - saving Favorites to desktop

He uses Firefox. Just drag a link (or the icon next to the address in the address bar) to the Desktop. Consider Opera for a browser that is particularly good at bookmarking and organizing surfing sessions.

A listener writes: The DeskCut extension for Firefox may also be useful: it can be installed to add this option to the right-click (context) menu.

Jeff in LaVerne - turn off Windows Update

He wants to update when it’s convenient for him. If you’ve installed Windows XP SP-2 it does try to update itself automatically, but you can change the behavior by opening the System Properties control panel. Click the Automatic Updates tab and choose a more appropriate setting. If you turn off updates entirely make sure you check Windows Update monthly. New updates appear every second Tuesday.


Patrick Norton joins us with a Defcon Roundup.

Rachel in Diamond Bar - what’s the best 35mm negative scanner

I like the Nikon Coolscan, but read the reviews at

JerseyGuy-sm has read a review for the Epson Perfection 2580 flatbed scanner that has a decent negative strip scanner in the lid. A strip of negatives can be fed into the scanner lid and automatically be scanned as individual images. It costs around $150 or less.

Here is a link to a review in PC Magazine.,1895,1738838,00.asp

David in Riverside - stop system clock on a PC

He wants to write aprogram to do that, but I’m not sure how you would. It would take a modification of the system’s hardware clock. Any suggestions.

He’s also looking for a way to run Apple’s Darwin on a PC (that’s the UNIX core underneath OS X). Download the disc image free from Apple (version 6.0) or see all the versions including the latest one, 8.0.

From Vet4Peace to David, re stopping the clock:

It’s easy. (Apologies and amends for screwing it up on my original post — here’s the corrected version.)

We’ll write a two-line batchfile that sets the desired time, over and over, and run it in the background. (In this example we’ll set the clock to 19:47:08 - 7:47:08 PM.)

From the desktop, right-click New > Text Document, name it “194708.bat.txt”, hit twice to put you in edit mode, and write:

time 19:47:08 <— your desired time in 24-hour format

194708.bat <— the name of your batchfile

Do a Save As “194708.bat” to your desktop, or a Save and Rename to “194708.bat”.

Double-click the batchfile icon, minimize the window and you’re done — time is stopped. (You can use the same method for the date and insert a line: “date 07–30–2005″ or just set it manually.)

On a related note, Windows sometimes uses Greenwich Mean Time when it datestamps files & directories, as when you’re burning CDs and DVDs. (Here on the Left Coast, files are datestamped 7:00 hours ahead, and 8:00 hours ahead when we switch to from Daylight Savings to Standard Time.)

If this becomes a problem, set Windows to (GMT) Casablanca, Monrovia and all the dates and times will jive.

My ex-problem: While I do daily backups to external Firewire drives, sometimes I archive material to CDs and DVDs. When I’d compare my live stuff to my archives, files in CD/DVD archives showed up as 7 or 8 hours newer. (I use a command-line file manager called ZTreeWin for file compares.) Setting Windows to GMT = problem solved.

If you use an automated time-service program to set you computer’s clock, you’ll have to revert back to local time, or figure out how and where in the registry to diddle its time offset. (I use an older program called CyberKit — Google search for a download URL — and I manually Regedit the “Offset” key to −7:00 or −8:00.)


Andy in Whittier - family web site

He is considering adding a wiki to his exisiting site, but that requires PHP and many providers don’t allow that. You can set up a small wiki free at Jot but I would recommend a community blog instead - everyone can post to it and comment on others posts. A community site like MSN Spaces makes a perfect place for families to get together. You can even upload photos.

jangelo adds: Multiply also does a good job at community blogging. It’s free, too.

Cameron in Temecula - Tivo vs DVD Recorder

Why choose - get both. Toshiba, Humax, and others make dual Tivo DVD Recorder boxes. But…

He’s a DirecTV customer and that could be a problem. DirecTV recently patched their satellite decoders and broke the serial line connection with standalone Tivo recorders forcing you to use the less palatable IR blaster technique to control the satellite box. Read this thread at the Tivo Community Forums before you buy a standalone Tivo for use with DirecTV. It looks like DirecTV is trying to force people to buy DirecTivo units.

Greg in Oregon - Sony Vaio missing activation key

He can’t restore his hard drive because he doesn’t have the Windows Activation Key. He does have the serial number sticker on his notebook, though, so a call to Microsoft should fix this.

Thanks Leo that worked. Got new key code.


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